Thursday, October 30, 2008

Child Care Class Was Great!

Hi, everyone! Lots has been going on. That child care class was really great...again, it was so good to not have to endure sitting in a class with women who are pregnant. It's still tough being around pregnant folks. So this class was a welcome relief, and it addressed not only general baby-care stuff, but also adoption-specific stuff. They had weighted, biracial babies to pass around, and we did hands-on diapering, among other things. She started to explain to us how to do it, and I raised my hand and said, "Wait a minute. Back up. How do you tell the front from the back?" She laughed and said, "Good point, for you new parents out there. The tabs go back to front." I didn't even know THAT!!! That'll change quickly, and I'll soon be Quick Draw McGraw when it comes to changing poopy diapers. But for now, I have the big old "C" on my forehead for CLUELESS!

The adoption-specific stuff we learned was interesting and extremely relevant: For example, did you know that most Korean babies sleep on the floor and don't even know what a crib IS? It's not like they are mistreated or anything...they are clean and warm, just on the floor...for some Korean foster moms, it's just the way they do things. Often, the foster mom will sleep right there beside them! So when you go to put them in the crib for the first time, they may be like, "What the hell is THIS? I'm in a CAGE!" and may put up a fit. So for the first week, couples adopting from Korea are advised to put their child in their crib to sleep/nap but to then lie on the floor beside them until they are asleep, to let them know that we are there and that they are safe. CC says that it usually only takes a few days for the baby to get used to the crib and to see it as their place to rest and sleep, a safe place, and after that first couple of days, Mommy or Daddy doesn't need to be in the room with them. I never thought a sleeping bag would be a desired addition to the decor of Baby Halverson's room! At least, temporarily.

The class was run by our caseworker, Margie, and a woman from Silver Spring, MD, who is a nurse at the V.A. in DC as well as a mother of 4 (3 of whom are adopted). She actually referred us to a pediatrician's office in Olney, Dr. Miller (she takes her kids there!), so we plan on contacting that office once we get the referral, so that Dr. Miller can review our child's records and photo(s) to make sure that he/she is indeed healthy as stated on the forms. We've also gotten some names of other doctors' offices from several friends who live in Olney. As usual, word of mouth is the best thing for something like this!

I also have my name on three day care lists thus far. (In this area, the sooner you get on a list, the better!) And there are several others that I plan to check out.

That's it, for now. Stay tuned for my next post (which will happen as soon as I find the time to write it) about the latest update on our "wait" (which is already very quickly becoming a new "four-letter word"!).

And thanks for continuing to check in. Your visits make me keep blogging, just when I think no one really reads this thing. It means a lot to me, to know that you care enough to make time to do this.

We leave for Hawaii in just FOUR DAYS! WHOO-HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Hugs to all!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Child Care Class on Sunday

Hi, everyone. Not much news here. We are attending an Infant and Toddler Care class at Catholic Charities this Sunday from 9 to 1. Several of our new friends who we've met through Catholic Charities are going. It should be fun. Gulp. Reality is setting in already!

Then, after that, at 3:00, one of my new friends, Sara (they just picked up their second child, Amanda, from Dulles Airport about two weeks ago!), is having a playdate at her house in Olney--and she has invited Jeff and me, as well as the other couple who lives in Olney (Mary Clare and Marty just got their referral--their daughter Cara will be coming to them in a couple of months!!!).

This is a rare opportunity for Jeff and I to socialize with about eight different families, all of whom have their kids at home and some of whom are waiting for Kid #2. All of them are members of my friend Sara's adoption cohort, and they do a once-monthly playdate. Most of them have--yup, you guessed it--little boys adopted from Korea! The playdates are in various towns nearby from month to month. So, Sunday will be devoted to all things adoption! I'm so excited!

Besides that, we'll be spending the next week or so getting ready for our big trip to Hawaii. I'm getting so excited, but I have so much to do between now and then! We have never, ever traveled on vacation for two weeks, and now I'm kinda seeing why. There's a lot of stuff to do (making sure the house is taken care of, the dog is kenneled, the mail is being handled, the bills continue to get paid, and then there's work--I'm actually intentionally ahead at work and hope to keep it that way! But working like a fiend in order to accomplish that!). We are aiming for the goal of "no laptops" on this trip, so we can truly relax! If we need to access the Internet, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so, I have a feeling!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Example of CC's "Monthly Korean Update"

So, here's an example of the "update" we get every month from Catholic Charities. This is the most recent one we received: the October 2008 monthly update. As you can see, it's kept intentionally vague, but does help to keep us informed and to know that even though we don't feel like much is happening, there really is quite a lot happening--and we are just waiting for our turn! Read below if you are interested.

Monthly Korean Adopters Update

October 2008

This is the seventh in a series of periodic updates that we will send you regarding the status of adoptions from Korea.

Referrals: We received the assignment of two healthy infants this month (one boy and one girl).

We currently have 19 families waiting for the assignments of children. Sixteen are waiting for the assignment of a child of either gender (which means they will most likely be matched with a boy), and three families are waiting for the assignment of a girl. Families waiting for the assignment of a girl have typically waited 15 months for a match. Families waiting for the assignment of a boy have typically waited 11 months for a match.

Travel/Arrivals: Two families traveled to Korea in September to pick up their children. Holt has temporarily relocated their office as their neighborhood is undergoing government mandated upgrades! They will be able to move back to their neighborhood -- -- but to a newly built and designed building -- in about two years. This gentrification means that their Guest House must now be partially used for office space, and consequently the availability of the Guest House has been limited for our families. This is a loss for our parents, not only financially (because the Guest House costs are about 1/3 that of the local hotels) but also because it limits their opportunities to interact with other adoptive families.

Holt still provides van service for families from the airport to the hotel of their choice, and from the Holt office to the airport on the day of their departure from Korea. Several of our families have taken the opportunity to travel to their children’s cities of birth, and Holt has provided interpreters when they visit the hospital or clinic where their child was born.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grandparents' Night: A Smashing Success

Well, last night was the much-anticipated annual Grandparents' Night at Catholic Charities. Their tiny room was packed full of parents-to-be and THEIR parents! My folks drove down from Scranton, PA, and Jeff's folks drove up from Manassas, VA. It was fun...they really educated our parents about adoption--the process, how being a grandparent of an adopted child is different from being the grandparent of a birth child, what to expect, how to help when the child is finally at home with Mom and Dad, etc. One of the most important things that Catholic Charities educated our parents on is "airport etiquette." When the child arrives, or when the parents arrive with their child at the airport, the first thing that every grandparent wants to do is to hold the baby. Margie, our caseworker, explained to them that this is a HUGE NO-NO. The reason makes perfect sense: Already, this kid has been passed from the arms of a nurse/doctor to the arms of a foster mother to (perhaps) the arms of an escort (if the child is being escorted to the U.S.) and finally to the loving arms of Mom and Dad. But if there's a lot of passing of the child at the airport (and when we arrive home), the child is STILL not going to know who Mom and Dad are. Not a very good thing for Mom and Dad, or for baby, for that matter! Margie asked, "So how ELSE can you help?" People started shouting out very good answers: Do the laundry. Make phone calls. Send emails announcing the good news. Walk the dog. Clean the house. Make dinner." (Heck, all of these sound GREAT to me! Bring it on!)

Our parents were able to meet and socialize with Margie, our caseworker, which was something that was so important to us. We converse so regularly with her (mainly over email and at parents-in-progress meetings) that it was important that our parents get to know her, too. All four of our parents participated actively, raising their hands and answering questions, and asking Margie some excellent questions as well. As we left, all four of our parents were raving about what a great time they had and what an excellent session it was. They said it was so informative, and in my Dad's words, "I learned so much about adoption tonight! More than I ever thought I would learn."

I took photos of us out to dinner before we left, and then took a photo of all of us sitting there at Catholic Charities, waiting for the evening to begin. These are some of the first photos that will be in our child's "lifebook"!

Have I explained the lifebook yet? A "lifebook" is an adoption thing; it's a scrapbook/memory book that traces our child's life journey, from as early as we can possibly manage, so that as our child grows, we can share with them the story of our journey to her or him and the important milestones along the way. We may not have photos of their birth, but we do have a lot of other meaningful things we can include. A lifebook can include everything from photos (including that magic "first photo" we'll get with the referral!) to airline tickets to cards/letters to pictures of Korea. It basically shows the child that he or she has an important and unique identity and their very own story to share with the world! It also shows them that adoption does not make them "different" or "less than" their peers: It simply shows them that they are as special as any other little boy or girl, and here's how.

All right. Back to work. Just wanted to share how things went last night. It meant so much to have my parents there (they drove 4 hours yesterday and then turned around and drove 4 hours back home today when I left for work!). Plus, the six of us don't get to spend time together very much, so everyone enjoyed the time we were able to spend together.

Talk to everyone soon! Have a great week. Probably no more posts this week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good News From Good Friends

Whoa, Nellie: This is not OUR good news, but ANY good news is worth sharing!

The exciting thing about discovering this whole new world of adoption is the friends that you meet along the way. We have met several families in Olney who are working with Catholic Charities and who are also waiting for their child (some first, some second). Just last week, two women I have become friends with got some exciting news: One friend received a referral for a healthy baby girl (she and her husband have been waiting since sometime in 2007, I believe--it takes longer if you wait for girls from Korea). The photo is so cute; she's all wrapped up snuggly tight in her warm-looking onesie, complete with footies, and she has these cute chubby cheeks!

And then the very next day, another friend (who I only know via email thus far) who also lives in Olney (the three of us chat from time to time) got the call on Friday that their daughter Amanda, who they have been waiting for during the past few months (I saw photos of her...she is ADORABLE!), would be at Dulles this Tuesday. They basically got four days' notice. Yikes! This is their second child. They already have a son, Matthew, also from Korea.

Being a first-time adopter, this experience of hearing such positive news from my friends gave me such hope and an incredible amount of reassurance that the wait really is worth it, and that it really does HAPPEN! (Sometimes you start to doubt if it ever will.)

I think I'll start clearing out that room. Maybe this parenting thing is going to happen sooner than I think! Or so I hope!

Now onto other things non-adoption-related: This past weekend, I took my first kayaking lesson. We went on the reservoir near my house. It was awesome...very zen-like. I loved it! We saw a blue heron take off squawking right in front of us. Saw fish jumping right up out of the water. It was so tranquil and peaceful and still, and the water was like glass. Absolutely gorgeous day, one that makes you thankful for all things beautiful in this world of ours.

I also took a 2-hour yoga training session (good to brush up!) and my weekly drumming lesson from my dear husband. He is so patient with us beginners! Hmmm...I'm taking all of these "lessons" and am being such a "student" these days! What is THAT about?

At the end of October, we signed up for a Baby Care class--can I tell ya how thankful I am that I don't have sit in a room full of big-bellied women? It's awesome that Catholic Charities thinks to offer such classes to those of us who are psychologically, but not physically, "pregnant"!

Grandparents' night is tomorrow evening! I'll blog about it later this week. I'm sure it'll be quite interesting! All six of us are caravaning up there in two cars.

I'll end with a quote from my dad: "Soooo, this grandparents' night thing...we're not being, like, screened, are we? I mean, they're not gonna put us on the spot or anything, right?" (insert wrinkly face) I just laughed and said, "No, Dad!"

It's funny, how people think.